Thursday, April 29, 2010

Candidate Fields Slightly Reduced - Not Enough for Ken Dixon

Rob Russo has left the 5th District Congressional Republican Race - which is too bad - I like Rob, and he's not quite as off-the-wall (self-edited) as some of the other candidates (Merkle, Torres).

Mike Jajura has left the Democratic governor's race. I only wish he would leave the Democrats all together.

and Mr. Nice Guy, Ken Dixon tells the candidates: "I am looking forward to the conventions … when half of these people will disappear.”

Monday, April 26, 2010

Experience Counts - AG and SOTS Races

I attended a forum in which first the AG candidates and then the SOTS candidates responded to 6 questions, then gave a closing statement. It wasn't exactly a debate, but they did go head-to-head on a variety of key issues. In the end, however, I thought the debates boiled down to one issue - relevant experience.

Attorney General

The AG contest included Susan Bysiewicz and George Jepsen.

That's Susan at a different event.

George Jepsen

Cam Staples did not attend.

Cam Staples

This was the closest contest on the experience issue. It was clear that George had far more experience as a practicing attorney, while Susan has far more experience running a major state agency. Which is more important (legal qualification issues aside)?

I'm a George Jepsen fan for other reasons, but I'll rate this debate a tie.

Secretary of the State

The candidates:

Andrew Garfunkel,

Denise Merrill,

Jonathan Harris,

and Gerald Garcia.

In this debate, as the former Mayor of West Hartford, Jonathan Harris was the clear winner on the relevant experience issue. He has managed a large bureaucracy, apparently quite successfully. Denise Merrill was clearly second. The other two were non-contenders.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dodd's Legacy

We think we know what made Dodd not run, but what makes him run? Over the last few months, U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd has been waving goodbye to the senate, a bittersweet farewell occasioned, some think, by plummeting polls and the perception on the part of some of his constituents that he stuck around too long, like some disintegrating, punch-drunk boxer dreaming of his glory days in the ring.

Then again, in the last few months, Dodd has been “born again” – this time as a reformer. Prior to his born-again experience, he was what Roll Call calls “the consummate insider.”

The senator after whom Dodd patterned himself, “lion of the senate” Edward Kennedy, was, to be sure, more “consummate,” beltway lingo indicating the congressional “virtue” of getting your way by playing between the keys of the political organ.

It is said by the chattering class that Dodd is “working on his legacy.” A politician’s legacy is what remains of him after he has left office, history’s verdict on his multifarious career. Someone who has served long in the senate acquires twists and turns that later, when he begins to assemble his legacy, prove useful in guiding the myth makers.

It helps a great deal if the politician is what flappers in the 30’s might call a “smooth talker.” Nixon was not a smoothie, though his career had in it more useful turns than the Mississippi.When Nixon left the presidency in disgrace, he immediately started work on his legacy. He stayed off the firing line and wrote books; soon headhunters in the media were heaping praise upon him, and he died buried under a mound of plaudits. Here and there a few commentators scattered critical remarks over the bones.

Bill Buckley once was asked what the real Nixon was like.

“Which one,” he answered. “There are about four of them.”

Dodd has had what funeral directors might call “a good run.” There were no drowned women in his life, no misplaced cigars. He had an easy time of it with Connecticut’s liberal-to-a-fault media, running afoul of the jaws that bite only when commentators feared he was romancing the right. He was divorced only once, falling far short of Lowell Weicker’s record. Even his fiercest critics would agree Dodd – not to speak of him overmuch in the past tense -- was a nice enough chap. The Ortega brothers appreciated his attentions in Nicaragua; Fidel Castro tossed no barbed words in his direction; and had Castro wannabe Hugo Chavez taken power in Venezuela when Dodd was off schmoozing with the Sandinistas, Chavez would have sniffed no odor of brimstone pouring off the sainted senator.

Dodd will be safe in the hand of his biographers. He need not fear his legacy will be less flattering than that bestowed on Weicker by his biographer in “Maverick,” once reviewed by Managing Editor of the Journal Inquirer Chris Powell under the critical title, “Mr. Bluster Saves The World.”

If the liberal Dodd faltered when he helped to dissolve any remaining restrictions imposed by the Glass-Steagall Act on large financial firms, he recovered somewhat by aggressively supporting President Barack Obama’s Health Care initiative. If he faltered when he supported President George Bush’s war in Iraq, after first opposing intervention in the Persian Gulf, he recovered somewhat by supporting Obama’s often stated campaign promise to bring the troops home from Iraq when doing so would have doomed to failure the military effort in that country -- Bush’s military effort. In yet another political pirouette, Dodd cautiously supported Obama’s war in Afghanistan, sometimes called by disappointed world conquerors “the graveyard of empires.”

The senator's cozy connection with Countrywide was a scar on his reputation. But few seemed to realize that his invaluable assistance to Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac, mortgage lenders too big to fail, may have been equally if not more problematic: One of the reasons large mortgage lenders were too big too fail was that congressional watchdogs such as Dodd and U.S. Rep. Barney Frank winked at their destructive lending practices. Indeed, Both Dodd and Frank rashly encouraged mortgage lenders to dole out tax dollars to recipients who could not afford mortgages.

We are told victory or utter collapse lie ahead of us, depending upon who is doing the telling. But history is not always a tale told by the victors. Sometimes it’s a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. That is more often the case when the powerful among us are permitted to shape their own legacies.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Doyle And The Assassins

Hartford Courant investigative reporter Jon Lender has noted that that Paul Doyle (D-Wethersfield) engaged in some “sticky” business in 2008 that has now come back to prick him:
“Here's how it all started: In late October 2008, The Courant published a relatively short story that said Doyle, a lawyer who is paid tens of thousands of dollars a year as an outside counsel to the state's trash agency, got the agency to delay paying him his full fee in 2007 so he could bypass a law designed to restrict state contractors from contributing to political campaigns.

“Doyle billed the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority for legal work in September 2007, and the agency issued him a check the following month for $4,016. But he returned the check Nov. 1 — and then, in January of 2008, the CRRA issued him a new check for the same amount.”
Doyle said he had engaged in the creative accounting because had his fees from CRRA exceeded $50,000, the law would have considered him a “state contractor,” and as such neither he nor his law partners could have made contributions to candidates they supported.

A clever legal pate can always find a route around an inconvenient and burdensome law or regulations.

Much ado was made about Doyle’s artful dodge by his Republican campaign opponent Ralph Capanera and Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy, recently styled by Doyle as his opponent’s “political assassin.”

Doyle won the election, but alas not every matter may be settled at the ballot box. Healy requested in February that Attorney General Richard Blumenthal investigate Doyle for tax evasion.

“Doyle did this,” Healy wrote to Blumenthal, “to postpone reportable income for 2007 and to avoid meeting the definition of 'state contractor' which would implicate and jeopardize his elected position as state senator." Healy regarded the acceptance by CCRC of Doyle’s creative accounting a "special treatment from a state agency" that gets fees from municipalities' tax revenues, and he reminded Blumenthal of his pledge to “vigorously pursue” tax evaders to the very gates of Hell.

A month went by and Healy received a missive from Blumenthal advising that he had passed the buck to the Department of Revenue Services "for its review and action as appropriate." The attorney general also noted that since Healy was alleging “possible criminal law violations, you should be aware that the DRS Division of Collections and Enforcement has … the power to make arrests where warranted, and to refer cases to appropriate criminal authorities for prosecution when necessary."

Piqued at Healy’s persistence, Doyle alleged political assassination; Lender admonished Doyle about “sticky” situations; and the raucous crowd that bays from the rooftops whenever a Republican wanders into “sticky” situations quickly fell into its usual stupor.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A kindly note to our local Census head hunters

In the fringe kind of spirit of the right wing Teapublican crazy across the nation that seems to think you are out to kill them or incarcerate them...

Apparently you are in no rush to achieve the assimilation of everyone into the collective and evil socialist Borg since we just received our Census questionnaire today.

Yeah... Check the date on this post.

I guess the fall of American FreeDumb was postponed?

Blumenthal, Good For Business?

"To blame law enforcement for unemployment,” said Attorney General Richard Blumenthal at a forum sponsored by some of the companies and industries he has sued, “is beyond wrong, it's silly and shouldn't be given any credibility. In fact it is a disservice to public service itself and to the law-abiding, hard-working business people.”

The report from which the above quote is taken does not disclose the reaction from those in the audience to Blumenthal’s remarks, some of whom work for companies sued by Blumenthal.

At an earlier debate with Democratic opponent Merrick Alpert, Blumenthal answered a charge that his many suits have had a deleterious impact on Connecticut’s job growth by charging that, on the contrary, they enhanced business activity and actually create jobs.

This time, at a forum sponsored by some of Connecticut’s major companies, Blumenthal’s response was more polished and carefully modulated.

Almost all business, Blumenthal said, have nothing to fear from law enforcement:

"My job has been to enforce the law. What I'm hearing from this table is a philosophy of law enforcement that Bernie Madoff would love. We've just come through a period where lack of enforcement by the federal government enabled and encouraged one of the greatest economic catastrophes in our nation's history."

Not only do honest businesses follow the law, “they welcome the level playing field that strong law enforcement provides to every one of them," Blumenthal said. "They do not want to be out-competed and underbid by law breakers who save costs on the backs of our consumers or our hard-working men and women."

Actually, Blumenthal’s job is to defend state agencies in legal matters. The attorney general’s office was transformed from this rather modest purpose during the administration of then Attorney General Joe Lieberman, now a U.S. Senator, who advertised himself as the people’s lawyer. That job spec has been considerably enlarged by Blumenthal, under whose direction the hundreds of lawyers who work for him several years ago focused on a target in East Hartford, a computer business that supplied equipment for the state, quickly putting the business out of business.

During the forum, Alpert charged that Blumenthal had deliberately attempted to destroy a small business, Computer Plus Center, by means of a suit charging that the company had defrauded the state.

The owner was not Bernie Madoff, nor was the business as large as some of the corporations sued by Blumenthal whose representatives in the audience heard the attorney general say, by way of answer to a failed suit that may cost the state $18 million, “mistakes were made in that case.”

Who made the mistakes? This would have been the obvious question for anyone on the dais to put to Blumenthal.

A jury had determined that litigators working for the attorney general had improperly sued a company. Did the jury make the mistakes? Were the mistakes made by the prosecuting attorney who permitted the jury to see a discredited affidavit on the basis of which Blumenthal secured an ex parte judgment against the company that permitted him to effectively put Computer Plus Center out of business?

Blumenthal evidently did not agree that the jury finding and its multimillion dollar award provided justice in the case, thereby leveling the playing field for other litigation shy companies that might, in view of the jury’s finding, feel a trifle less cautious in moving into a state in which the attorney general has sued more than 800 companies in the last four years, many of them small Main Street rather than Wall Street businesses.

Instead, Blumenthal promised more litigation, boasted that the state had not paid out a dime and said he expected the award to be reversed on appeal, which may stretch the litigation well beyond the upcoming elections.

Blumenthal is expected to be nominated for the seat in the U.S. Senate left vacant upon U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd’s retirement. He has a commanding lead in the polls over his Republican challengers.

With more than a hundred lawyers at your back, though only a few of them litigate cases, company owners far less wealthy than Madoff eventually collapse under the litigation pressure and settle for deals that might have been struck before Blumenthal’s questionable legal badgering began.

Blumenthal is fond of saying that his office brings in more money to the state -- none of it audited regularly by outside inspectors -- than is spent by his office. But this rude calculus does not tally the amount of money lost to the state though attrition. The jury award to Computer Plus Center is an alarm bell ringing in the night: Given the awesome powers marshaled by the attorney general’s office, what business more comfortably situated in states with less aggressive attorneys general would want to set up shop in suit prone Connecticut?

More McMahon Mayhem

Courtesy of Daily Caller:

You might almost forget it was only a few years ago that McMahon, reduced to a near-comatose state by her husband Vince’s public affair with WWE diva Trish Stratus, rose up from her wheelchair on Wrestlemania 17 to kick Vince in the balls.

Now that McMahon wants a seat in the staid Senate, all we hear about from her campaign and allies is her role on the business side of WWE, where she was a wildly successful female executive, negotiating TV deals and generally earning the WWE heaps of money. Her staff neglects to mention that in 2005 she again entered the wrestling ring to fire WWE commentator Jim Ross by, yes, delivering another low blow.

As serious as McMahon is acting these days, WWE is back in the news because her chief Republican rival, Rob Simmons, has a low blow of his own.

In the midst of their brutal primary campaign, Simmons is drawing attention to just how racy WWE really was.

The wrestling league has always drawn fire from conservative critics who saw cartoon-like entertainment being marketed to kids that also happened to include two lady wrestlers locking lips, the unveiling of Playboy covers at wrestling matches, and segments flirting with bondage themes and necrophilia. The WWE’s era of explicit programming climaxed with an infamous romp under the covers in the middle of a wrestling ring.

and here are the videos of Linda in action:

Friday, April 9, 2010

To Flag Or Not To Flag

After complaints from Michael Lawlor, one of the co-chairs of the Judiciary Committee, the decider-in-chief of the Capitol Police rescinded an earlier decision to permit the Gadsden flag to be flown over the state Capitol.

The Harford Courant reported the following day:

“… the approval was rescinded abruptly on Thursday after the Connecticut Tea Party Patriots group announced it was holding a political rally at the Capitol immediately after the flag-raising ceremony. The group had invited candidates it is supporting in the November election.

"'It went from being a flag-raising ceremony to a political event,' acting Capitol Police Chief Walter Lee said. 'They are using it as a launching pad for [candidates for] public office.'"

The paper noted that this was not the first time the hoisting of a flag above the state Capitol has occasioned controversy:

“In 1999, gay rights activists got permission to fly the rainbow flag. That decision drew criticism from socially conservative lawmakers, who demanded that the flag, a universal symbol of gay rights, be taken down. Shortly after that, officials approved a policy limiting which flags can be hoisted at the Capitol.

“Only the following flags are permitted: ‘Flags of the United States of America; a state of the U.S.A. or a political subdivision; the District of Columbia; Puerto Rico; the U.S. Virgin Islands; any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S.A.; an Indian tribe recognized by the U.S.A.; any foreign jurisdiction with which the U.S.A. maintains diplomatic relations or its political subdivisions, to include the United Nations; flags of recognized military organizations of the U.S.A., to include the VFW, American Legion, and POW/MIA flags.’”
The new rule governing flag flying at the state Capitol apparently is this: You may fly a flag from the Capitol, but you may not rally under it.

The state capitol police, Lawlor, whose objections were carried in the Courant and other papers, and other dissenting legislators – it would be nice to have their names – do not understand the purpose of a flag.

Would Lawlor, for instance, remain passive if a police authority permitted the hoisting of a gay flag but ran it down the flag pole when they discovered that gays would rally around it? One hopes he would not.

The Capitol police should be instructed that a flag is not just a harmless symbol. It is a rallying point to call attention to the purpose of a battle, which is why many of the flags assembled in the Hall of Flags at the state Capitol are battered and torn, as was the flag raised at Iwo Jima.

Lawlor and the Capitol police should pay a visit to that section of the building. Unlike Democratic caucuses and backroom phone calls between Lawlor and the Capitol police, it is opened to the public.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bysiewitz Deposed

The election for attorney general has become, to put it politely, a mess.
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal – afflicted with the bizarre notion that suits against Connecticut businesses actually increase business in the state by providing a level playing field – had decided, after twenty years of enhancing business activity in the state, to move on to greener pastures in the U.S. Congress.

Blumenthal’s abrupt exit gave everyone in Connecticut a view of how term limits would enhance politics in the state. U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd decided – some think after polls showed him tanking badly – to retire, and Blumenthal laid claim to Dodd’s his seat, after which Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz announced she had second thoughts about running for governor and made a pitch for Blumenthal’s seat. Her seat was left open, and the political musical chairs continues; the incumbency ice flow breaks; spring is here at long last

Almost immediately, Bysiewicz ran into a brick wall. Questions were raised concerning her qualifications for attorney general, an issue now in the process of being decided by Connecticut’s Supreme Court. The proceedings, a five hour interrogation of Bysiewicz, were videotaped, and the air is now cluttered with Freedom of Information demands to make the proceedings public, which may not help Bysiewicz’s long term political strategy. Rumor has it that Bysiewicz intends to bide her time as attorney general and run against Sen. Joe Lieberman when he come up for a flogging at the end of his term. Asked if she intended to surrender her seat as attorney general to follow Blumenthal’s path to the U.S Senate when Lieberman came up for re-election, Bysiewicz’s answer to the question was dodgy.

It all sounds very much like a Greek tragedy, with Zeus bawling from his throne, a scheming Hera entangling everyone in complex subplots, and a few hapless human guards patrolling the walls of Troy wondering at the ominous cloud, now no bigger than a hand, gathering on the horizon.

The Bysiewitz deposition took five grueling hours on the first day; she returned on the second day for more barbed interrogatories, poor thing.

Citing “lawyers closely watching the case,” The Connecticut Law Tribune reported:

“Her deposition in the politically drench proceeding is apparently going very badly… In mid-stream, her lawyers on Monday sought to have a judge impose a protective order forbidding the public release of the deposition video or transcript… She has reportedly been forced to admit that she had never authored a legal brief…Furthermore, according to second-hand reports from lawyers connected to the case, she acknowledged she had never participated in a legal strategy session for a case. The sources said Bysiewicz was asked under oath to list the times she had officially appeared in a courtroom. Her answers were minimal -- in law school, when being sworn in to the bar, and when representing herself in a small claims action.”
Byseiwitz’s default position is to argue that the state statute prescribing ten years of active legal experience as a requirement for the attorney general position is in conflict with the state constitution, which lists only age as a requirement, and here she appears to be on solid constitutional ground. In any conflict between the constitution and a statutory regulation, a court could only embarrass itself by ruling the constitution unconstitutional. And if the constitution cannot be unconstitutional, the statute must be unconstitutional.

The ever cagey Blumenthal answered a demand from a newspaper that he release the deposition tapes in his custody under a Freedom of Information request by pointing to a possible gag order from the presiding judge.

While Bysiewicz appears to have taken a nose dive in the media, her polling positives remain respectable, perhaps an indication that a majority of folk in Connecticut have come of age at a time when much of the media has lost its vigor.

Friday, April 2, 2010

To the Left of Ned Lamont

I think that's an appropriate position for me:

Simmons Campaign Body Slamming McMahon

Since I think Linda will be the Republican candidate, I'm loving all of the *hit the Simmons people are giving her.

Some of the prime stuff I covered here.

And there's this great video they put out:

The winners in this fracas seem to be Peter Schiff (fine with me) and of course Dick Blumenthal.

Meanwhile Linda McMahon is getting hit from a different direction - here's a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee press release:


Peter Schiff And Key Tea Party Leaders Have Endorsed Plan To Kill Social Security For 600,000 Connecticut Residents

Will Billionaire McMahon Call For Abolishing Social Security As Well?

The day after billionaire Linda McMahon was criticized by a Republican town committee member from Salisbury for “scare-mongering” on the issue of Social Security, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is calling on Linda McMahon to say whether she is in favor of privatizing Social Security. As the Hartford Courant reported, Chris Janelli, a Republican town committee member in Salisbury, received a call last week from someone affiliated with McMahon’s campaign wanting to talk about Social Security. The caller went on to slam McMahon’s primary opponent Peter Schiff for his full-throated support for radically dismantling Social Security. Tea Party leaders Wayne Allyn Root and Dana Loesch told Larry King Monday evening that they would like to “do away with” Social Security completely by abolishing the popular program. Root said he would like to “do away with it because I could find better ways to spend and save my own $15,000 a year.”

With Schiff and many prominent Tea Party leaders calling for Social Security in its current state to be abolished, will Linda McMahon also lend her support to dismantling Social Security? The 600,000 Connecticut resident who receive Social Security benefits are eagerly awaiting McMahon’s answer.

“With Peter Schiff and many Tea Party leaders calling for the dismantling of Social Security, will billionaire Linda McMahon lend her support to their proposal to dismantle Social Security and send thousands of Connecticut seniors into poverty? ” said DSCC National Press Secretary Deirdre Murphy. “$15,000 a year might be chump change for billionaire Linda McMahon, but for many Connecticut seniors, it’s all they have to depend on. Linda McMahon has a choice, she can either stand by Peter Schiff and the Tea Party crowd, or she can stand up for Connecticut senior citizens by supporting Social Security.”

Under the Peter Schiff and Tea Party proposal, Social Security would be radically dismantled, and Connecticut’s senior citizens would be left to fend for themselves in their golden years. Thousands of seniors would be sent into poverty due to lack of other income. In fact, 600,000 Connecticut residents currently receive Social Security benefits. Many Connecticut residents simply would not be able to get by if not for Social Security, which has lifted millions of seniors out of poverty since it was created in 1935.